Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
There are now 69 days until the midterm elections. Only five states still have primaries; New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware. All the primaries will be over on September 12. (Louisiana holds its primaries on the same day as the rest of the nation holds its general elections, November 8. If a run-off is required in Louisiana, it is held in early December.)
Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have some critical strategic decisions which will influence the results in November. The questions themselves are easy, their execution and their results will probably decide the election. Tuesday night’s primaries indicated precisely what the issues are.
America today is a very different country than the one most Americans were brought up in. Throughout the United States the increase in the Black and Brown population has been dramatic. Together with the dramatic expansion in political participation by women (in both parties), African Americans and Latino voters are the critical voting blocs in American politics. Whether they turn out and whether they vote in 2018 is the crucial question for the Democratic Party. As Blacks and Browns are predominately Democratic voters, this is the Democrats challenge; to get these sizeable voting groups registered and to the polls. This is no longer true only in the large urban centers, but it now includes Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and other states as well. The blue wave which Democrats believe is coming will only succeed if these groups come out to vote. That represents the challenge for the Democrats.
Equally important for the Democratic Party is the message they want to present to the voters. Their challenge is whether and how much any of their internal quibbling will impact on the voters and turnout. If they fail to control their fringes, the Democrats—not for the first time—could well tear defeat out of the jaws of potential victory.
For the GOP in their goal to maintain control of the House as well as the Senate and Governorships, it will need to stop vacillating over whether running behind Trump or away from him will best help their chances. Without the President actually on the ticket, the Republicans need to make sure his base votes for all Republicans regardless. If the President’s base stays home or fails to comprehend the urgency of turning out even without the President on the ticket, the Democratic tsunami could be even stronger than expected.
President Trump plans to stomp all over the country. His lack of control and moderation could undermine the electability of some Republicans and they recognize this fact. The problem is that Trump will not follow advice as to how to campaign and where. This is particularly problematic in House contests, which are frequently determined by local issues.
To Be Noted
Even in death Donald Trump has not a scintilla of decency in his body. His conduct upon hearing the news of Senator John McCain’s demise displayed a level of arrogance and disdain for common civility which was appalling. There is little that Trump has done which reached the level of distaste as how he responded to McCain’s passing. One wonders whether this will keep the President on the eighth rung of Dante’s Hell or whether he would now descend to the bottom.